2007 Code of Ethics Updates
The 2007 Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice took effect on January 1, 2007. It contains a number of updates, which the National Association of Realtors® approved in May and November 2006.
The following is a synopsis of the 2007 changes, with which you should be familiar. Remember, Realtors must review the updated Code in its entirety every year to ensure complete familiarity with each current Article and the corresponding Standards of Practice (SOP).
- The Preamble now includes a reminder that Realtors commit to observe the spirit of the Code “in all of their activities, whether conducted personally, through associates or others, or via technological means.” This addition, along with many others set forth below, helps to clarify that in addition to their traditional means of doing business, Realtors must observe and comply with the Code in all of their business dealings, communications, and transactions performed via the Internet and/or e-mail.
- SOP 1-2 was updated to advise that “The duties imposed by the Code of Ethics encompass all real estate–related activities and transactions whether conducted in person, electronically or through any other means.”
- New SOP 9-2 addresses Realtors’ Web sites and the need to make “reasonable efforts” to “explain the nature and disclose the specific terms” of contracts consumers may enter into on the Web site itself.
- SOP 12-5 was updated to specify that a Realtor may not advertise “in any medium,” including the Internet, without disclosing the name of his or her firm in “a reasonable and readily apparent manner.”
- New SOP 12-8 advises that the well-known ethical obligation to present a “true picture in advertising” applies to Web sites, too. Also, Realtors must use “reasonable efforts” to ensure that the information on their Web sites is current and must “promptly take corrective action” when it becomes apparent that information is “no longer current or accurate.”
- New SOP 12-9 requires that a Realtor’s Web site include the name of his or her firm, and his or her states of licensure, in “a reasonable and readily apparent manner.” Notably, this standard also applies to the Web sites of any non-member licensees affiliated with a Realtor’s firm.
- New SOP 12-10 specifically prohibits Realtors from, “(1) engaging in deceptive or unauthorized framing of real estate brokerage Web sites; (2) manipulating (e.g., presenting content developed by others) listing content in any way that produces a deceptive or misleading result; or (3) deceptively using metatags, keywords or other devices/methods to direct, drive, or divert Internet traffic, or to otherwise mislead consumers.” Accordingly, the obligation to present a true picture in advertising also applies to any URLs and domain names a Realtor uses.
- New SOP 12-11 instructs that if a Realtor plans to “share or sell consumer information gathered via the Internet,” his or her Web site must disclose this possibility to the public in a “reasonable and readily apparent manner.”
- New SOP 15-2 specifies that a Realtor’s obligation to refrain from knowingly or recklessly making “false or misleading statements” about a competitor’s business or business practices includes the obligation to refrain from repeating, retransmitting, or republishing “false or misleading statements made by others.”
- SOP 17-4 was updated to clarify that in a situation where Broker A believes he or she was the procuring cause and files for arbitration against Broker B (who was paid), the amount in dispute and any resulting award to Broker A are limited to what Broker B was paid, including any amount Broker B credited to his or her client.
- New SOP 17-5 advises that when there is no established inter-association arbitration agreement, a Realtor’s obligation to arbitrate contractual and specific non-contractual disputes still applies when the Realtors are located in different states, the Respondent’s association determines an arbitrable issue exists, and the Complainant agrees to travel to the Respondent’s association and submit to that association’s jurisdiction.